A fired-up Marvin Vettori plans to smash Kevin Holland, call out Israel Adesanya

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

LAS VEGAS — Marvin Vettori is angry. He’s frustrated. He’s impatient.

He’s spent years trying to turn himself into a championship-caliber fighter, and now he’s ranked sixth in the UFC's middleweight division and possibly just a win away from being a viable title option.

He rails about fighters who pull out of fights, and isn’t happy that Darren Till, whom he was supposed to fight on Saturday in the UFC on ABC 2 main event at Apex, hasn’t provided proof of the broken collarbone that Till says forced him out of the fight.

Vettori isn’t buying it. For that matter, he’s not buying that Paolo Costa was ill enough to pull out of a planned fight with Robert Whittaker on April 17.

“What is with that guy? I mean, is he a fighter or isn’t he?” Vettori told Yahoo Sports in a tone laced with disgust.

Vettori will fight Kevin Holland on Saturday in the main event when Holland stepped up to fill in for Till. Holland lost to Derek Brunson on March 20 in a bout in which he talked almost nonstop and seemed not to be concentrating on what was going on in the cage. Instead, he was carrying on a dialogue with former lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was seated at cageside.

Holland has vowed to be more focused this time, but Vettori doubts he’ll talk that much in any event.

“How is he going to be talking when I’m punching him in the face?” Vettori asked rhetorically. “But if he wants to talk, let him do it. He’ll only be hurting himself. I’m coming to fight.”

Vettori appreciates Holland taking the fight, but he’s hardly impressed with the attributes the 10th-ranked Holland brings to the table. Holland was 5-0 in 2020 and concluded the year with a vicious knockout of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. He earned some consideration for Fighter of the Year and was the first UFC middleweight to win five times in a calendar year.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 05: (R-L) Marvin Vettori of Italy punches Jack Hermansson of Sweden in a middleweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on December 05, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
(R-L) In his last fight, Marvin Vettori earned a unanimous decision over Jack Hermansson at Apex on Dec. 5, 2020, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Holland has shown a diverse game, but Vettori doesn’t see what the big deal is about him. As the legendary former champion Georges St-Pierre once said of a Matt Hughes win, Vettori very much gives off the “I am not impressed” vibe when discussing Holland.

“He’s a wild guy,” Vettori said. “His style is wild. His mindset is wild and his approach is pretty wild. That’s about it, but there isn’t anything too much solid about his game. I’m going to take the right precautions and approach it the right way, and there’s not much he will be able to do, actually.

“Whatever he’s going to try to do, he’s going to get smashed trying.”

Vettori noted that Holland’s last defeat before he went 5-0 in 2020 came via submission to Brendan Allen on Oct. 19, 2019.

That fight was notable because of what Vettori sees as the way that Allen imposed his will on Holland. Vettori said he can’t see anyone with that type of mindset beating him.

“Brendan Allen broke him; he absolutely broke him,” Vettori said. “That wasn’t the first time, though. He’s been broken many times. He likes to stall and can’t handle a fast pace. Well, everyone knows the way I like to fight. He’ll learn.”

Vettori said he’ll call out champion Israel Adesanya if he defeats Holland. The two fought in 2018 and Adesanya won a split decision. “It’s pretty obvious he doesn’t want to say my name, but I’m going to bring up his name,” Vettori said.

He said assuming he wins, he wants to take the seat that Nurmagomedov occupied for the Holland-Brunson fight and watch the following week as Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum go at it.

He’s on a mission and is going to make sure everyone knows it.

“I’ll be there right next to Dana [White] and I’ll make sure he knows and they know what I want,” Vettori said. “I’m not going to talk when the fight is going on, but I will [talk] a lot once it’s over to whoever needs to hear it.”

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